Friday, December 26, 2014

Japan Greatest All-time team

This blogger Artur Yanturin of Russia copied many of my blog teams.  This blog was one of them.  It was my Russia All-Time Team here.  His team was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.   His Spartak Moscow All-Time team entry of was published in October 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2017.  His entry of the Dutch-German rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.  He also copied many many of my blog entries.

His Facebook and Instagram

Japan 1998
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

AustraliaSaudi ArabiaIran,
ChinaJapanSouth Korea.
Hong KongIndia
East AsiaWest Asia(without Iran and Saudi Arabia),
Central AsiaSouth East Asia(ASEAN).

Japan's earliest international matches were at the 1917 Far Eastern Championship Games in Tokyo, where it was represented by a team from the Tokyo Higher Normal School. Although Japan made strong showings in swimming, baseball, and track and field, its football team suffered resounding defeats to the Republic of China and the Philippines. Before the 1990's, football was not a big sport in Japan.  In 1992, however, Japan won the Asian Cup and became a power in Asia.  With the formation of J-League in 1993, football gained ground in Japan.  In the same year, they almost qualified for the WC Finals in United States. However, they surrendered a 90th minute goal to Iraq that gave South Korea the final berth to the WC Finals.  The match was known as the "Agony of Doha".  Japan finally qualified for the WC in 1998 and went on to qualify for all of the following WC Finals at the time of writing.  In both 2002, 2010 and 2018, they advanced to the second round of the WC Finals. 

Japan was the first team from outside the Americas to participate in the Copa América, having been invited in 1999, 2011, 2015, and 2019 editions of the tournament, though they only played in the 1999 and 2019 events.

If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be 23 players I would bring to the tournament.
World Cup 2018

GK: Eiji Kawashima 川島 永嗣
Kawashima played in Japan for Omiya Ardija, Nagoya Grampus Eight and Kawasaki Frontale before joining Lierse S.K. in Belgium in 2010. He then played for another Belgian club, Standard Liège, from 2012 to 2015, and Dundee United in Scotland from 2015 to 2016. He played for Japan at the 2010 , 2014  and 2018 World Cups.
GK: Seigo Narazaki 楢﨑 正剛
Seigo Narazaki was named in 4 straight World Cup team, but he started only in 2002.  In 1995, he joined J. League side Yokohama Flügels. He contributed to the club winning the Emperor's Cup in 1998. When Flügels was merged with cross-town Yokohama Marinos in 1999, he was signed by Nagoya Grampus Eight. He was again a member of the Emperor's Cup winning side in 1999 but this time with Nagoya.

GK: Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi 川口 能活
Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi was the most talented Japanese goalkeeper.  He was named in 4 straight World Cup teams.  He was the starter for France 1998 and South Africa 2006.  He spent most of his career playing at home, but spent a brief stint with Portsmouth in the English First Division.  He had 116 caps.  

RB: Atsuto Uchida 内田 篤人
Atsuto Uchida played with Kashima Anthlers in the J-League before joining for Bundesliga's Schalke 04 in 2010. From 2010 to 2017, he played Schalke 04.  He was on the Bundesliga team of the Year for the season 2012-2013 and 2013-2014.   He also played Union Berlin before returning to Japan in 2018 with Kashima Anthlers.  He went to both World Cup Finals in 2010 and 2014. He played 71 times for the Japanese national team between 2008 and 2015.
Atsuto Uchida 

RB/DM/CB: Takumi Horiike 堀池 巧
Takumi Horiike started his career with Yomiuri.  After the formation of J-League, he spent most of his career with Shimizu S-Pulse. He was capped 58 times and scored 2 goals for the Japanese national team between 1986 and 1995.  He missed out the World Cup Finals of 1994 after Japan failed to qualify at the last minute.

CB: Masami Ihara 井原 正巳
Masami Ihara was the Asian Player of the Year in 1995 and one of the players selected for AFC Century Award.  He was at one point Japan's all-time leading appearance record holder with 122. He led Japan to its first ever World Cup Finals in 1998 as the captain. He also helped Japan to win 1992 Asian Cup hosted at home. At the club level, he was a star in the J-League throughout the 1990's.  He spent most of his career with Yokohama Marinos(or Nissan Motors).  Later, Ihara played for Jublio Iwata and Urawa Reds.
Masami Ihara 
CB: Maya Yoshida 吉田 麻也
Maya Yoshida started his career with Grampus Eight Nagoya.  Since 2012, he has played or Southampton.  He also played for VVV Velo in Holland. He was the captain of Japan's Olympic team in 2012.  He went to the World Cup Finals in 2014 and 2018. He had 88 caps at the time of writing. 

CB: Yuji Nakazawa 中沢 佑二
Yuji Nakazawa went to Brazil as a youngster.  He returned to Japan, and played for Verdy Kawasaki and Yokohama Marinos.  He went to both World Cup Finals in 2006 and 2010.  He had 110 caps between 1999 and 2010. He was one of seven Japanese players to earn over 100 caps between 1999 and 2010.  His nickname is "Bomber" because of his distinctive hairstyle.

CB: Tsuneyasu Miyamoto 宮本 恒靖
Tsuneyasu Miyamoto played  71 times for Japan and led the Japanese national team in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups as well as the 2000 and 2004 Asian Cup.  He played for Gamba Osaka before moving to play for Red Bull Salzburg in Austria. Miyamoto also captained Gamba Osaka during their 2005 J1 League championship season.

LB:  Yuto Nagatomo 長友 佑都
Yuto Nagatomo played for Meiji University before he started his professional career with FC Tokyo in the J-League in 2007. He is known for his offensive skills.  He joined Italy's Cesena in 2010.  After less than a season, he joined Inter Milan where he became a starter throughout the 8 seasons he played there. He can also play as a rightback.  In 2018, he joined Galatasaray in Turkey.  He collected over 100 caps for Japan. He played in the World Cup Finals in 2010 2014, and 2018.  He won the Asian Cup in 2011.
Yuto Nagatomo 
LB: Satoshi Tsunami 都並 敏史
Tsunami was a product of Yomiuri (current Tokyo Verdy) youth system. He played for Japan Soccer League side Yomiuri Club, which was transformed to Verdy Kawasaki when J1 League was founded, between 1980 and 1996. Toward the end of his career, he played for Avispa Fukuoka (1996–1997) and Bellmare Hiratsuka (1997–1998).He was capped 80 times before 1982 and 1995.

CM: Yasuhito Endō 遠藤 保仁
Yasuhito Endo was a hero at Gamba Osaka.  In 2011, he became the first J. League player to be named in the J. League Best Eleven 9 times. In 2009, he was named "Player of the Year" by the Asian Football Confederation. He is Japan's most capped players with 152 caps.  He went to the World Cup Finals in 2006, 2010 and 2014.

DM/CM: Makoto Hasebe 長谷部 誠
Between 2002 and 2007. Hasebe played for Urawa Reds.  In 2009, he became the second Japanese player to win the Bundesliga title when Wolfsburg won it.  Since 2014, he has been playing for Eintracht Frankfurt.  With Japan, he played 114 times between 2006 and 2018.  He was captain of the 2018 World Cup team.  He was AFC Asian International Player of the Year: 2018, and selected to the Europa League Squad of the Season: 2018–19.
Makoto Hasebe
CM: Yasuhiko Okudera 奥寺 康彦
When soccer was still an amatuer sport in Japan, Okudera made his way to Germany.  He played with FC Klon and Werder Bremen in the 1980's. Okudera was the first Japanese footballer to play professionally in Europe, as well as being the first Asian football player to score in the European Cup, while playing for 1. FC Köln in the 1979 semi-final match against Nottingham Forest F.C. and made 32 appearances – scoring nine goals – with the Japanese national team.

AM: Kazushi Kimura 木村 和司
Kazushi Kimura was a star midfielder in the 1980's.  He was Japan's Player of the Year in 1983, 1984 and 1989.  He played for Nissan Motors before the foundation of J-League. The club became Yokohama F. Marinos in 1993, where he played three more seasons. He earned 54 caps for the Japanese national team.

AM: Shunsuke Nakamura 中村 俊輔
Shunsuke Nakamura was a star player at Celtic in Scotland where he played between 2005 and 2009.  He won the SPF Player of the year and SFWA Player of the Year in 2007.  Before that, Nakamura began his professional career with J1 League club Yokohama Marinos in 1997.  Later,  he played with Reggina in Serie A.  After he left Celtic, he played briefly for Espanyol in La Liga. He played in three World Cup Finals, but he was not selected for the World Cup Finals in 2002 at home. 
Shunsuke Nakamura 
AM:  Hidetoshi Nakata 中田 英寿
Hidetoshi Nakata was the most talented Japanese player of his generation and the first Japanese player who reached stardom in Europe.  He scored 10 goals in his first season with Perugia in Serie A for the 1998-1999 season.  He had a successful substitute role with AS Roma, but he never settled down after his first season.  He also played with Parma, Fiorentina and Bologna.  He later went to play in England with Bolton Wanderers. He picked up 77 caps between 1997 and 2006.  He went to three World Cup Finals: 1998, 2002 and 2006. He retired at the age of 28.
Hidetoshi Nakata 

AM: Keisuke Honda 本田 圭佑
Honda is the current star of the Japanese national team.  He played domestic football in Holland and Russia before making a dream move to Serie A's AC Milan in 2014. Since 2017, he played in Mexico for C.F. Pachuca. Since 2008, he has been a regular member of the national team. He played in two World Cup Finals: 2010 and 2014. He also won the Asian Cup in 2011.

AM Shinji Kagawa 香川 真司
Shinji Kagawa began his professional career in his homeland with Cerezo Osaka before joining Borussia Dortmund in 2010. After two years with Dortmund, Kagawa signed for Manchester United on a four-year contract, but could not settle down in Old Trafford. Two years later, he returned to Dortmund, where again he was a star player. Since 2008, he has over 90 caps. He was a member of the 2014 World Cup team while controversially left off the 2010 team. He was Asian Player of the Year in 2012.
Shinji Kagawa 
FW: Ryuichi Sugiyama 杉山 隆一
Ryuichi Sugiyama played for Japan national team from 1961 to 1971.  He won the bronze medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. He also participated in the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and scored 2 goals.  He spent his entire career with Mitsubishi.  He was Japanese Football Player of the Year three times: 1964, 1969, 1973.

FW:  Kazuyoshi Miura 三浦 知良
Kazuyoshi Miura became the first Japanese footballer to play in Italy, joining Genoa for the 1994-1995 season.  He was the Asian Player of the Year in 1993.  Despite being the best Japanese player in the 1990's, he never played in the World Cup Finals.  He was not selected for the 1998 WC in France. He had 89 caps between 1990 and 2000. On 5 March 2017, Miura became the oldest ever player to feature in a professional match when he started in Yokohama's 1–1 draw against V-Varen Nagasaki. 
Kazuyoshi Miura 

ST: Shinji Okazaki (岡崎 慎司 )
In 2005, he made his professional debut with Shimizu S-Pulse.  He played in Germany with Stuttgart and Mainz.  In 2015, he joined Leicester Town.  He was an unsung her in Leicester winning the Premiership in 2015-2016 season.  He was AFC Player of the Year. For Japan, he was capped over 100 times, scoring 50 goals. He went to three World Cup Finals: 2010, 2014 and 2018.

ST:  Kunishige Kamamoto  釜本 邦茂
Kunishige Kamamoto won the bronze medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics, finishing as the tournament's top scorer with seven goals. He is often considered to be the greatest Japanese football player of all-time. He also played at 1966, 1970 and 1974 Asian Games.  He played his entire career with Yanmar Diesel(Cerezo Osaka), being the Japan Soccer League's top scorer 6 times with his club. He served as a member of the House of Councillors between 1995 and 2001.
Kunishige Kamamoto 

Honorable Mention
Naohiro Takahara (高原 直泰), Hisashi Kato (加藤 久), Naoki Soma (相馬 直樹), Alex (三都主), Takuya Takagi (高木 琢也) , Atsushi Yanagisawa 柳沢 敦 , Makoto Hasebe 長谷部 Masashi Nakayama (中山 雅史), Yuichi Komano (駒野 友一), Shinji Ono (小野 伸二), Hiromi Hara (原 博実), Ruy Ramos (ラモス瑠偉).

Squad Explanation
-- On June, 2021, I re-edited the team.  It was not a big overhaul as I did with South Korea.  
-- Kunishige Kamamoto (釜本 邦茂), Yasuhiko Okudera (奥寺 康彦)Masami Ihara (井原 正巳), Kazuyoshi Miura (三浦 知良),  Hidetoshi Nakata (中田 英寿) and Shunsuke Nakamura (中村 俊輔) are the greatest ever footballers from Japan.  They are automatic selections.
-- Before the 1990's, the standard of Japanese football was not very good.  However, Kunishige Kamamoto and Yasuhiko Okudera were the two big names before the 1990's generation.  They were well-known outside Japan, Kazushi Kimura was a very good midfielder.
-- Japan's first ever World Cup Finals was France 1998.  From that team, I selected Hidetoshi Nakata, Masami Ihara and Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi.  Kazuyoshi Miura was controversially left off the team.  He was largely considered among the greatest ever Japanese player.
-- Despite Japan's poor performance at the World Cup 2014 in Brazil, the Japanese players on the team were among the best ever.  I included 5 players from the 2014 team.   Keisuke Honda, Atsuto Uchida, Shinji Kagawa, Yuto Nagatomo and Yasuhito Endō are on my all-time team.  Some of the footballers established themselves by playing in Europe. The blog was first created in December, 2014.
-- Japan reached the second round of the 2018 World Cup Finals.  They nearly pulled an upset victory over Belgium in the round of 16.  It was their best result since 2002.  Goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima was heavily criticised for his performance, but he is on my team since 2014.  Maya Yoshida, Yuto Nagatomo, Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda were also selected since 2014.  In 2019, I added Shinji Okazaki.  Makoto Hasebe was the big question mark.  
-- In 2019, I felt that Makoto Hasebe had Yasuhito Endō, Ruy Ramos and Yasuhiko Okudera ahead of him. Yasuhito Endō is Japan all-time cap leader. Yasuhiko Okudera was a pioneer for Japanese football. It would be almost impossible for Hasebe to get into the team.  He is on my honourable mention.  However, in 2021, he replaced Ruy Ramos on my team.  Ramos was one of the first foreign players in Japanese professional soccer.  He contributed to the emerge of Japanese fooball in Asia.  However, Hasebe had led Japan to their best finish in the World Cup Finals up to that point.  He also did better at club football. He was also Europa League Squad of the Season for the 2018–19 season.  
-- I considered dropping Kazushi Kimura (木村 和司) for Hasebe, but I admitted trying to spread the team around.  The fact that Ruy Ramos (ラモス瑠偉) was a naturalised Japanese citizen played no part in my reason for dropping him.  In fact, he was chosen to be to the all-time team in 2014 because he was one of the early foreign professional players playing in Japan.
-- Ruy Ramos  was the Japanese Footballer of the Year  in 1990 and 1991.  He joined Yomiuri in 1977 at the age of 20. Between 1996 and 1997, he played for Kyoto Purple Sanga. In 1997, he returned to Verdy Kawasaki. He was an important member of the Japanese national team during their unsuccessful 1994 World Cup qualification.
Ruy Ramos
-- Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi was probably the most talented goalkeeper ever in Japan.  He is often ranked as Japan's greatest ever. However, he had attention lapse, where he never fulfilled his promise.  He still made the all-time team.  My first two choices is actually Seigo Narazaki and Eiji Kawashima. 
-- Yuto Nagatomo was among the best fullback in Serie A during his prime while Atsuto Uchida did well in Germany.
-- Masami Ihara was the Asian Player of the Year in 1995 and one of the players selected for AFC Century Award. 
-- Despite his failure to settle down with Manchester United, Shinji Kagawa had a wonderful time with Borussia Dortmund.  He enjoyed a successful career in Germany.
-- Keisuke Honda was also among the most successful Asian player in Europe.
-- Yasuhiko Okudera was the first Japanese footballer to play professionally in Europe, as well as being the first Asian football player to score in the European Cup,
-- Hidetoshi Nakata was the first Asian player to make a break through in Italy's Serie A.  He also was a big discovery in the 1998 World Cup Finals.
-- In 2002, Japan again controversially left out Shunsuke Nakamura out the World Cup Finals.  He later proved himself to be a big star in Scotland.  He was among the best free kick specialist playing in Europe in his prime.
-- Japan had a few naturalised Brazilian. Ruy Ramos was the most successful of all.
-- Kazuyoshi Miura became the first Japanese footballer to play in Italy, joining Genoa for the 1994-1995 season.  At age of 50, he was still an active player.
-- Kunishige Kamamoto  釜本 邦茂 is Japan's all-time leading scorer.
-- Shinji Okazaki was a key player off the bench for Leicester won the Premiership in 2015-2016.  He is AFC International Footballer of the Year: 2016. At the time of writing, he is Japan's 3rd highest goal scorer. In August, 2019, I replaced Masashi Nakayama with him.  

Starting lineup
Formation 4-2-1-3
  • I prefer Kawashima over Kawaguchi, whom I believed to have too many his lapse.
  • Nakata started on the right, but I could easily give that position to Miura.


  1. Kazuyoshi Miura started his professional career at Santos FC. Even today the fans remember him fondly in Brazil.

  2. Seigo-Narazaki/Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi
    Masami-Ihara Tulio-Tanaka Yuji-Nakazawa
    Yasuhito-Endo Hidetoshi-Nakata Shinji-Kagawa Shunsuke-Nakamura
    Kunishige-Kamamoto Kazuyoshi-Miura

    Silky midfielder galore. Pick your favorite goalkeeper.